Sex is Good, Even When You’re Not Having Any

Our bodies are often the first to signal the rising of our newly released inner energies and gifts. — Wuellner

Last week, we made our way through the first five chapters of Flora Slosson Wuellner’s book Prayer and Our Bodies.  This week, we’ll finish our little tour by reflecting on what she has to say about how our bodies relate to sexuality, disability and illness, community and creation.

Chapter 6: Healed Empowerment and Our Bodies

In this chapter, Wuellner has some interesting things to say about sexuality as one expression of the “transformation of the Holy Spirit” that draws out our natural “poise, balance, justice and charity between passions and energies.”  Along with laughter and tears, just anger and compassion, Wuellner suggests that the unity and marriage we talked about last Thursday between the body and spiritual experience results in “a new restlessness, poignancy, vigor felt in the body that often involves a heightened sexual awareness….”

Many think that sexuality will go away or at least become quiescent as we grow spiritually.  On the contrary! As we abide more closely to the God who is the source of all creative energy, the God of the Incarnation, we begin to experience sexual energy in a new way, as a holy, inalienable, generative force.

In other words, “[s]exual energy is energy from the source of creative life itself.” Our sexuality comes from God.  Whether we are sexually active or not, our sexual energy is a good and powerful expression of who we are as creative individuals participating in the Incarnation of Christ.  In fact, Wuellner reminds us that “we are all sexual beings, including those who are celibate or abstinent, for our creative polarized response to life within and around us is manifested in many ways through our body’s vitality.”

Expressing our sexuality through sexual interaction with another person is one way to expend this sexual energy, and such activity–when undertaken within healthy and appropriate boundaries–is both sanctioned and blessed by God.  As Wuellner writes, “None of our bodily energies are low or unworthy.”

However, not everyone is in a position to express their sexuality this way.  Having spent most of my life thus far as a single woman (married less than a year), I’m intimately familiar with the frustration of discussions about how blessed, natural and good our sexual energy is while being unable to express it fully.

I remember sitting in church one day listening to a sermon on the value of exercise.  At one point in the sermon, the pastor said, “Now, all you single people, put your fingers in your ears.” It was clear what he wanted to say next was directed toward only the married members of the congregation.  Then he said, “Exercise also raises your libido!” As the congregation laughed and clapped at his admission that exercise can give us more sexual energy, my single friend and I exchanged a glance that said, Oh great, so then what are WE supposed to do about all that extra sexual energy?

Wuellner suggests that “none of our powers and feelings need be wasted.  When direct sexual activity is inappropriate, we can still accept the empowered gift in ways that bless us.”

Here are some of her suggestions, which she stresses are neither more holy nor more spiritual than direct sexual activity:

  • speak inwardly to your sexual emotion and say “I choose not to give you direct expression; rather I ask you to send your powerful vitality to my whole self so that I can do my work with empowered love.”
  • locate the area where the sexual energy seems to be centered and visualize the energy flowing “with radiant power like a river of light” to the rest of your body.

You can also follow my friend Stacey’s journey through 50 days of experiencing her sexuality as a single person.

In these ways, we can still acknowledge, express, and enjoy our sexuality without necessarily expressing it directly.  Rather than feeling frustrated, repressed, or perhaps even plagued by emotions and desires with no appropriate avenue for direct expression, we can experience our sexuality in a healthy, appropriate, and indirect way through these and similar suggestions.

Wuellner ends her discussion of sexuality (along with anger, food, play, dance and exercise) with four main reasons we experience such “gifted empowerment that rises and manifests in our bodies….”

  1. that we may more thoroughly enter into the joy of God and may more fully taste the gifts of God
  2. that we may more fully encounter, accept, and embrace our unique identity
  3. that we may with passion and compassion bear one another’s burdens and “wash one another’s feet”
  4. that we may be eager channels of the healing transformation that God longs to bring to the agony of the world.

Before the beginning of Lent on Wednesday, take some time to sit quietly with your body, recognizing its power and vitality and allowing them to fill your whole self–body, mind, spirit and will.  Acknowledge and thank your body for its participation in your whole life experience.

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About Laura K. Cavanaugh

I'm a writer, spiritual director, and advocate of holistic body theology.

Posted on February 20, 2012, in Physicality, Sexuality, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. It is rare that anyone addresses singles and sexuality. I’m not sure what to make of those two suggestions but it’s better than not being acknowledged at all. I’m going to look at your friend’s blog for sure.

  2. Speak inwardly to your emotion? What happens when your singleness lasts longer than it did previously. Men and women are staying single until their mid 30s and 40s what about them? Focusing on your sexual energy will only get you so far. And you can only go dancing so much. (Sorry Christian answers to singles sexuality might be more frustrating than the actual sexuality I have to suppress.)

    • Hi Tammy, thanks for sharing so honestly. I really value your opinion. I am reminded of St. Augustine’s Confessions where he so honestly struggles with his sexual desires ; certainly, there is no “quick fix” or on-off switch. I agree with you that visualization exercises are not a complete solution or substitute for direct sexual interaction, and I don’t think Wuellner believes that, either. (And just to clarify, the dancing wasn’t being advocated as a way to release sexuality but rather another way–like just anger, laughter, tears, compassion, and sexuality–that we experience renewed vitality when our bodies are healed and empowered. I don’t want to misrepresent Wuellner’s position.) I just think it’s an interesting idea that suppression isn’t the only solution for abstinent or celibate people. There are ways to acknowledge and celebrate our sexuality even when direct sexual contact is inappropriate. We don’t have to just pretend it’s not there, which is the lesson I learned growing up that was so frustrating for me. Thanks for giving the exercises a try, even though they didn’t work for you. You might find more success with Stacey’s 50 days/50 ways. Have you found anything else to be helpful in your journey? I’d love to hear your suggestions.

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